Curran’s black card warning

Former Roscommon goalkeeper Shane Curran has warned the black card will be “intolerable” for referees and difficult for rural clubs with low player numbers.

From January 1, the new grade of offences which will see a player withdrawn from the field and replaced by a substitute will be introduced to Gaelic football.

However, Curran stressed smaller clubs don’t have sufficient numbers of quality players to accommodate the black card and is convinced it will pile pressure on already overburdened refs.

“I think it’s all grand and everything sitting in Croke Park and commenting on it but when you bring it down to grassroots level it will present challenges that I think are going to be difficult to overcome for a lot of clubs.

“Over my career I’ve had a lot of run-ins and run outs with them, referees, but we’ve still got to respect them. I think their job is going to be just intolerable at localised level.

“For the weaker clubs it’s difficult. A lot of people hedge their bets but the black card, I think, is a ridiculous rule. There are too many things in the GAA, too many going on from a referee and administration point of view.

“On the day of a game to be able to keep up with black cards, yellow cards, red cards — it’s going to be great for ye (press) guys, it’s going to be great for the Joe Brollys of this world and that to comment on it. I’m not one that subscribes to the notion that football is poor or isn’t played at a great standard, I think it is played at a great standard.”

Curran has seen how emigration has crippled teams in the west and believes the black card will accentuate the difficulties they already face.

“As you know, intercounty football now is very structured, very professional. You’ve 30 guys training, week in, week out, of similar standard, the players from 16-25 as good as 1-15.

“In club football you don’t have those numbers, particularly in rural Ireland. You’ve got the big urban centres of Galway, Cork, Limerick and Dublin. The eastern seaboard in particular is very heavily populated. But if you come to the west of Ireland and the midlands, and places like that, they’re basically wastelands. It’s very difficult for players to keep togging in for their clubs week-in, week-out, maybe with no reward at the end.”

“It’s different for us in Brigid’s and some of the clubs in Galway and Mayo, they can keep going because they have an opportunity for success.”

Curran lines out for defending All-Ireland club champions St Brigid’s in the opening game of their Connacht SFC title defence against Sligo’s Tourlestrane in Dr Hyde Park on Sunday week. The 42-year-old heads to Basra in Iraq this Monday for four days with his company who specialise in protection against explosive devices.

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